Tyler chosen for zoning test app

Published on Tuesday, 19 August 2014 23:28 - Written by Kelly Gooch kgooch@tylerpaper.com

Tyler has been chosen to help test a zoning app, the city announced on Tuesday.

City of Tyler Principal Planner Michael Howell said Code for America, a nonprofit organization, is trying to put together this new ZoningCheck app, and the city found out and requested to be part of that.

“We’re being what’s called their beta testers, which means they’ve kind of got the program that works, but essentially what we’ve said is, ‘We’ll help you work the bugs out of your system,’” Howell said.

He said the city does that at no cost by allowing Code for America to put city information into its system so that everybody can try to check out the app and ensure that it works. Then if there are any issues along the way, he said, the city will send that information back to the organization to try to help them get a higher-quality product before they are ready to put the app on the market and sell it.

“Whenever we found out that they were offering the service, we thought it would just be something great that people around here could use, so we wanted to try to be part of it early on. We’re definitely excited that we were selected,” Howell said.

The app allows people to enter an address “to quickly identify if a location is permitted for a specific land use,” according to a news release.

“Alternatively, the user can type in a proposed use, and then view where that use is allowed within the city,” the news release reads.

Howell said the app could be used by someone who wants to open a business at a certain location, and would provide them with information as far as what is or isn’t allowed at that location.

The app is not currently available for download by the public, but people may access the program via a link at www.TylerPZ.org or directly at www.zoningcheck.us , he said.

Howell said other places also are serving as beta testers, and Code for America is looking at having the service go live sometime in 2015.

“We look forward to entrepreneurs utilizing this tool to locate properties to establish their businesses and to allow small business owners to make location-based decisions,” city of Tyler Planning Director Heather Nick said in a news release. “Users do not have to have zoning expertise to use the program, which is designed to be simple to use and informative.”

Anyone who would like to make comments may contact Amber Rojas at arojas@tyler

texas.com or 903-531-1175.